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Alexandria caterer prepares Obama’s Swearing-in luncheon

President Barack Obama at his Inaugural luncheon Tuesday

President Barack Obama at his Inaugural luncheon Tuesday

By Jordan Wright

President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Luncheon for approximately 200 guests was held Tuesday afternoon at the Capitol’s Statuary Hall after the swearing-in.

The inventive dishes, created by Alexandria-based Design Cuisine as a tribute to Abraham Lincoln’s favorite foods, were paired with American wines and American-sourced food products.

First course was Seafood Stew prepared with lobster, scallop and shrimp with a crisp pastry lid. It was paired with a 2007 Duckhorn Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc from the Napa Valley region.

It was followed by a “Brace of American Birds,” duck and pheasant from Wisconsin’s MacFarlane Pheasants farm, served with a sour cherry chutney and whipped molasses sweet potatoes…a nod to Obama’s affection for Sweet Potato Pie. It was delightfully paired with a 2005 Goldeneye Pinot Noir also from California.

The piece de resistance, and who can resist dessert, was an Apple Cinnamon Sponge Cake with Glace Cream which was highlighted by a Korbel Natural “Special Inaugural Cuvee” from the spectacular Russian River Valley.

The bottle featured a commemorative neck label featuring the Inaugural Seal.

How many bottles were taken home as souvenirs is anyone’s guess.

Below is the recipe for the Duck Breast with Cherry Chutney. Do try this at home!

Yield: 10 servings


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup chopped onion (1 small)

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon ground cumin

Scant ¼ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

¾ teaspoon salt

½ cup coarsely chopped red bell pepper (½ medium)

1 plum tomato, coarsely chopped

¼ cup dry red wine

1 ½ to 2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 can (3 cups) Bing cherries, quartered *Oregon brand

½ cup Golden Raisins

10 (6 oz.) boneless duck breasts with skin

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or chives

Method for chutney and glaze

Heat oil in a 2 to 3 quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook onion, garlic, and shallot, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 7 minutes. Add tomato paste, black pepper, cumin, hot pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium and add bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in wine, vinegar (to taste), and sugar and simmer approx 5 minutes. Stir in mustard, 1 1/2 cups cherries, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer 1 minute. Allow to cool slightly and reserve all but ¼ cup of the mix to the side. Place1/4 cup mix in a blender and puree until very smooth, about 1 minute (use caution when blending hot liquids). Reserve for glazing duck. To finish the chutney, add the remaining 1 ½ cups of cherries, tarragon, chives and all the golden raisins. Can be prepared one day ahead.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Score duck skin in a crosshatch pattern with a small sharp knife and season duck all over with salt and pepper.

Heat water in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over low heat until hot, then add duck, skin side down. Cook duck, uncovered, over low heat, without turning, until most of fat is rendered(melted) and skin is golden brown, about 25 minutes.
Transfer duck to a plate and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet. Brush duck all over with cherry glaze and return to skillet, skin side up.

Roast duck in oven until thermometer registers 135°F, about 8 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Holding a sharp knife at a 45-degree angle, cut duck into slices. Serve with cherry chutney and molasses whipped sweet potato.

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